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January 9 Ranked Arena Updates

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  -  3 months ago

Happy new year! Just in time for Year 3 of HCS, we’ve made a significant number of updates to the maps in Ranked Arena in an effort to foster a stronger competitive balance, address player feedback, and breathe some life into these maps many of which have had the same layout and stale meta since the game’s launch. These changes are NOW LIVE in Ranked Arena and Custom Games.

All Maps:

  • Deleted many scenic dynamic objects: Many maps use small set pieces of scenery to immerse the player. These objects, however, have caused network-related instabilities that impact player movement on the map. (This excludes Forbidden which did not have scenic dynamic objects.)
  • “Red racked” equipment: Before today’s update, when a piece of equipment was picked up, a new one started spawning immediately. With this update, the equipment must be depleted of its charges or despawn in order for a new one to start spawning. This will reduce potential for imbalanced scenarios where equipment is stacked on an individual player or a team. At the same time, this will add an additional layer of strategy with players have more control over when the new equipment will spawn.
  • Custom Games: The ranked version of the maps now have their own file names in Custom Games with the naming convention of, “[MAP NAME] Ranked”. For example, “Live Fire Ranked”.


Aquarius was one of the maps we felt needed the biggest changes. There were items that were super valuable, and also items that were not valuable. Additionally, many CTF matches are ending on time instead of score, and we wanted to bring that in line with the other modes.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout
    • Swap BR and Commando placement.
    • Remove Thrusts from each courtyard, add one Thrust Top Middle (3 Charges)
    • Remove Sidekicks
    • Move Heatwave to Bottom Mid  
    • Remove Quantum Translocator
    • Overshield added to front P1  
    • Needler replaced with Plasma Pistol  
    • Dynamo Grenades replaced with Plasma Grenades  


For Argyle, we needed to find ways to promote flag scoring so that games end on score vs time more often, as well as address some feedback around weapons on map.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout
    • S7 Sniper Rifle respawn timer increased from 2:00 to 2:30.
    • Removed Sniper-side window Bandit Evo
    • Remove Disruptor in PC / Screens area
    • Swap Sidekicks to Disruptor  
  • Objective:  
    • Flag Plate moved off base platform and towards front of the base


We felt very few changes were needed to promote games ending on score instead of time for CTF, and to address some player feedback.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout
    • Removed Drop Wall 
    • Removed Needlers 
    • Swap Heatwave to Bulldog  
  • Map
    • Crates inside Flag area have been moved to the Plat wall to allow for additional viable flag routes.


As a new map we only wanted to make sure the equipment charges were consistent across the whole ranked experience.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout:
    • Threat Seeker charged reduced from 2 to 1

Live Fire

This was another map we felt needed the most amount of work in order to address feedback, improve the overall balance (including King of the Hill), and provide new gameplay challenges for players and teams to learn and solve.

  • Weapon/Map Layout:
    • Quantum Translocator added Back Green  
    • Plasma Grenades Front Green where Repulsor spawned originally
    • Spike Grenades moved to Cuts  
    • Removed Needler 
    • Removed Shroud Screen
    • Overshield replaced with Active Camo (2:30 respawn time)
    • Repulsor moved to Bottom Mid 
    • Removed Heatwave 
  • King of the Hill:
    • Removed hill surrounding Overshield (now Camo) 
    • Added a new hill Bottom Bridge near Mud area 
    • Moved hill in House area slightly towards Scoreboard area 


Much like Live Fire, Recharge was in need a larger overhaul to address balance issues and provide a fresh experience for players, particularly with King of the Hill.  

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout:
    • Repulsor removed 
    • Shroud added in Blue Pipes area 
    • Moved Frag Grenades from Red Pipes to Turbine area
    • Removed Needler 
    • Sidekick swapped with Battle Rifle
    • Disruptor swapped with Battle Rifle
  • King of the Hill
    • Removed hill in Elevator area 
    • Add new hill in Batteries area  
    • Created new hill rotation order :
      • Batteries
      • Blue Pipes
      • Turbine
      • C Platform
      • Bottom Middle
  • Spawns
    • Deleted Respawn Point on Grappleshot Ledge  


For Streets, most of the feedback stemmed from the feeling of there being too much power on the map in the form of strong weapons in more ideal to use locations. We wanted to address that feedback while also again providing new ways for players and teams to play on the map.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout
    • Rocket Launcher swapped with Camo (spawns 30 seconds into match)
    • Bandit EVO removed from B-Stairs
    • Stalker Rifle moved to Red Room
    • Removed Threat Seeker
    • Shroud Screen moved to back A in original Threat Seeker location
    • Repulsor added to Driveway area in original Shroud Screen location
    • Threat Seeker swapped to Shroud Screen
    • Commando Rifle in Top A replaced by Battle Rifle
    • Bandit EVO in Café replaced by Commando Rifle


The main objective with Solitude was to update King of the Hill to address balance and player feedback particularly around the “snow ball” effect on the map.

  • Weapon/Equipment Layout
    • S7 Sniper Rifle swapped Shock Rifle  
  • King of the Hill
    • Removed Top Middle hill   
    • Removed Bottom Dip hill
    • Added a new hill Bottom Middle
    • Added a new hill in Yard 
    • Created new KOTH rotation order:
      • Bottom Middle
      • Yard
      • Café Ramp
      • Driveway
      • Nest

We hope these changes not only provide a fun new experience for all players in Ranked Arena to enjoy, but also a more competitive experience for HCS Year 3. For all things Halo Esports and Competitive Halo, be sure to follow @HCS on Twitter.